Lessons from Passover for COVID-19

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I’ve been spending a great deal of time contemplating Passover, not just because of the time of year, but also because of this world-wide health scare we call COVID-19. In 2020, Passover will be celebrated April 8-16th. It is a traditional Jewish holiday dating back to the earliest times of human history (prior to 1400 BCE) and is originally found in the twelfth chapter of Exodus:

While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.

“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. 

“…These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

“This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time.”

I am particularly struck by verses 7, 12 and 13. They allude to the blood covering of the spotless lamb, as well as the last and most deadly of the plagues God has sent in judgement of those who have held the Israelites in captivity, and the act of God “passing-over,” from which this religious festival gets its name. The blood of the animal that was sacrificed was used to mark each home. This mark was a sign of protection. The meat of the animal was eaten together as a family, shared with neighbors where families were small. This act was a sign of provision for all. Let’s look at those two signs and what they have to teach us…

Protection: There’s been a great deal of talk about PPE (personal protective equipment) while our country’s medical system tries its best to address a crisis for which they were unfortunately unprepared. This protective gear provides a line of defense for our health care workers on the front lines as they care for those who suffer with the COVID-19 virus today. The crafty are sewing facemasks for the sick and companies are re-tooling to ramp up production of the medical-grade masks and equipment that our medical facilities are so desperately in need of. Ultimately our efforts to stay inside, self-quarantine and social distant are efforts to simply buy time for the medical community to build up resources and supplies and create new spaces for those that will be hospitalized and require intensive care and respirators as the virus outbreak peaks in every state across our nation. The directives to STAY INSIDE & SOCIAL DISTANCE are very real and extremely serious ones. Which brings me back to Passover.

The Passover scene from the movie The Ten Commandments is an eerie scene. While Moses and his family eat together, protected in their home with their doorway marked by the blood of the lamb, we hear shouts in the streets—people crying out in fear and grief, as the plague of death kills every first born in the homes without this blood covering. As I watch the news unfold, I am taken back to this scene again and again.

Ultimately, this scene takes me to a scripture from the Prophet Isaiah:

Come, my people, enter your chambers,
    and shut your doors behind you;
hide yourselves for a little while
    until the fury has passed by. Isaiah 26:20, ESV

I know some are frustrated at the “liberties” being denied many of us as “free” citizens. I know others who continue to think it is not that serious. I know there are many people who don’t have the option of staying home even if they wanted. Those on the front lines are saying if they could stay home, they would. But they can’t. Daily they put their own lives in jeopardy so others can live. I also realize that others live paycheck-to-paycheck and staying home leaves a great deal of uncertainty. I also realize that for some children staying at home is dangerous and opens them to more abuse. All of this burdens my heart deeply. And causes me to ask… for the rest of us…

What harm is it for us stay home? To stay inside? To shut the doors behind us until the fury has passed, as Isaiah warns us? What if instead of complaining, we were grateful that we can stay home? That we can work from home? What if we listened to the voice of the ancient prophet and hid, not out of fear, but in order to protect the weak and elderly in our communities? What if we imagined it was 4,000 years ago and God was commanding us to stay inside, instead of government authorities? What if we locked ourselves into our prayer closets and began to intercede for those mentioned in the paragraph above?

Early on I saw the quote, “The weak are worthy of the rest of us rearranging their lives” by KJ Ramsey. I must whole-heartedly agree. And speaking of hearts…

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I’ve seen stories of people hanging hearts in their windows as a sign of love and compassion for all that is going on in our world today. What if those hearts became our sign of protection, for us here in this time in HIStory? Our “blood covering” so to speak as we choose to step into our prayer chambers and intercede for the world at this unprecedented time in history?

How does the blood of Christ serve as a covering for you?
How can you visibly demonstrate that blood covering as encouragement to others?
(Click here for a post with hearts to print out and color)

Provision:  As people are hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I love that God instructs these ancient people to gather and share resources so as little meat as possible goes to waste. An animal was not killed for each family, but was shared among neighbors and friends. There is much to learn from that act alone. There is a sense of purposeful preparedness. They first selected a lamb or goat without blemish and then cared for and attended the animal until it was to be sacrificed. Plans were made. Neighbors worked together to make sure everyone had enough and yet not too much. Even though the meal itself was to be eaten in haste, the preparations leading up to the meal were thoughtful and coordinated. God makes a thoughtful plan for provision. No one goes without and no one gets to act out of greed and gluttony. This passage has much to teach us amidst the panic and chaos we’ve seen across the country.

As COVID-19 began to spread in the US, we were with our daughter Maddy in Montana. We were in a small ski resort community with one small grocery store. We dropped her off to purchase a few items, and when we picked her up she remarked how difficult it was to see an older couple trying to shop and make adjustments to their shopping list as items they planned to buy were gone. Another older gentleman was struggling to understand why there was no toilet paper. “It was so sad,” she remarked. Seeing these people struggle encouraged her to adjust her own shopping list so that others coming behind her would have enough.

We all have so much to learn in these unprecedented times.
How can we share our resources with others so no one goes without?
How can we pitch in and help those making sure children and families are fed, sheltered and cared for at this time?

Additional thoughts and questions for reflection on Exodus 12:

  1. Verse 1 indicates that the Israelites were far from home and held in captivity in Egypt. Quarantine (whether it is self-imposed or government mandated) might feel like captivity to you. What about it feels like captivity to you? What liberties are taken from you and what things are you still at liberty to engage in? Beyond our current health crisis, what other things might hold you in captivity?
  2. Verse 2 God tells them that from there on out, this will be the beginning of the year for them. Through this designation of time, God is indicating something new. What “new thing” do you believe God is doing in this season for us collectively and individually?
  3. Verses 3-4 give instructions on how the animal to be sacrificed was to be chosen and shared. In what ways can you step into “choosing and sharing” amidst this pandemic?
  4. Verses 5-6 prophetically points to Christ as the spotless lamb. It was spotless, chosen and carefully attended until the time came for its sacrifice. Consider the life of Christ here on earth, especially as it relates to being spotless, chosen and carefully attended. What does the life of Jesus teach us?
  5. Verse 11 gives specific instructions for how they were to eat the meal. In what ways have you learned about provision and preparedness in this season, especially as many are over-buying and hoarding supplies in anxious panic?
  6. Verse 14 speaks of commemoration. How will we (globally, communally, individually) choose to “commemorate” COVID-19 in the future? How will we remember those who suffered and succumbed to this illness, as well as those who have put their lives at risk in order to care for them? How do we want to look back and remember this time?

I recently saw this prophetic dance of intercession and travail in the Worship & Creative Arts Facebook Group I administer. It is a vivid and powerful example of God’s Passover covering in this season.

I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below* your own thoughts as you contemplate and reflect on this powerful passage of scripture and this time in our world history. I bless you with health, healing, compassion, patience and love. (*please note: negative and political comments will be deleted.)

For more Holy Week / Easter reflection you can spend some time reflecting on the last seven statements of Jesus spoken from the cross through the art, poetry and song with the “7” Virtual Art-Walk series:

Blessings of artistry, creativity, worship & BEaUty, Jody
Shine Brightly!

Jody Thomae © 2020 All Rights Reserved

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Book FrontJody Thomae is the author of God’s Creative Gift—Unleashing the Artist in You and The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautifulboth in-depth, interactive devotional books in the Bible Studies to Nurture the Creative Spirit Within series that serve as resources for creative Christians, artists, and lovers of beauty and worship.God's Creative Gift by Jody Thomae Jody has been involved in worship arts ministry since 1997, serving as an arts ministry pastor and worship leader and is a guest lecturer on creativity, embodiment, and spirituality with Healing Care Ministries. Her passion is for the revelation of God to be made more real through the prophetic use of the arts in church and the use of creativity in formational and healing ministry. It is her desire to portray the message of Christ’s desperate and unfailing love for His people to help sustain the hearts of the broken and weary. She is particularly interested in the reclamation of the body in the healing of trauma and works in the area of embodiment with survivors of abuse, addiction, and trauma. Her life verse is Isaiah 50:4.
JodyThomaeCDcoverart_FA_printHer books are available through Amazon. Signed copies are available for purchase through Square where her resources are available most affordably (and in bulk amounts for your creative ministry team or group study). Jody has also recorded a devotional CD, Song of the Beloved, which is available through Square, iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, and other music outlets.

Embodied: How We “Treat” Trauma

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My husband might suggest to you that I’m addicted to the BBC series Call the Midwife, and, perhaps he’s correct. I recently viewed a powerful episode that dealt with the issue of trauma, and more specifically how we “treat” those who’ve been affected by trauma, particularly in our early response to trauma. In my mind, it conjured thoughts of sterile emergency rooms and even more sterile conversations with those required to gather evidence…  of not-so-well-meaning statements of “should’ve-known-better” judgement and “if-I-were-you” advice…  of well-meaning friends who try so very hard, but still fail in their offerings… Continue reading

Practicing the Presence of God through Creative Prayer Stations

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“Practicing the Presence” was created for a Healing Care Ministries seminar called The Essentials. The essence of this seminar to help those in caregiving ministries understand how to position people for lasting, healing change, particularly through engaging the right hemisphere of the brain through creative spiritual practices. “Practicing the Presence” was done each morning in lieu of traditional worship. Each day is spent focusing on one member of the Trinity with the following themes: Creator God, Christ our Royal Redeemer, and Holy Spirit, Flame of Love.

Included here are resources, coloring pages, accompanying scriptures and photographs so you can recreate this for your own church or ministry. Hand-outs are provided and can be used with permission by leaving the website and copyright information intact at the bottom of each page. Coloring pages were created by Pauline Mae Blankenship (©2018) for “Practicing the Presence,” and if you have The Creator’s Healing Power—Restoring the Broken to Beautifulyou will recognize these coloring pages from the book. She has graciously offered them for our use, and you will find links within each section below.

Each day we started in silence, which was broken with Lectio Divina. Then participants were released to explore creative prayer stations. Every day, one station included a cross with artwork to create a space where folks could kneel and pray, and another included the coloring pages at two large tables with coloring supplies:

Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: On a Mission

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Scripture Reading: 

…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

…For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light…Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eph 4:30–5:2, 5:8-13, 5:15-20

Reflections:

Yesterday was our final message in our Lenten series through Ephesians. While I didn’t post the entire scripture passage above (due to space), feel free to read Ephesians 4:25–6:9. A large passage indeed, but we took a look from a distance and found three main ideas that pertain to a life of personal mission:

  1. Imitate Christ
  2. Live a life of character and integrity
  3. Make the most of your time

Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Unique yet Unified

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Scripture Reading:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.

He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. Eph 4:1-7


Reflections:

Right off the bat, here’s my confession… I wasn’t in church yesterday so this is not a reflection on our church’s sermon series in Ephesians… these are simply my own thoughts, musings and reflections… Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Reconciled for Reconciliation

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Scripture Reading: 

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazingFor we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.

So never forget how you used to be. Those of you born as outsiders to Israel were outcasts, branded “the uncircumcised” by those who bore the sign of the covenant in their flesh, a sign made with human hands. You had absolutely no connection to the Anointed; you were strangers, separated from God’s people. You were aliens to the covenant they had with God; you were hopelessly stranded without God in a fractured world. But now, because of Jesus the Anointed and His sacrifice, all of that has changed. God gathered you who were so far away and brought you near to Him by the royal blood of the Anointed, our Liberating King.

He is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law’s ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nationsHis desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God’s means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body. The Great Preacher of peace and love came for you, and His voice found those of you who were near and those who were far away. By Him both have access to the Father in one Spirit. Eph 2:8-18 The VOICE

Reflections:

Our church is working through passages in Ephesians through the Lenten season, and yesterday our message was brought to us by ATS student Shauna Rushing. Shauna shared her testimony of answering an unexpected calling, revealing that sometimes our vision isn’t God’s vision. Paul is a perfect example of this. He was on a mission to eradicate all followers of the “The Way” (Christ-followers), but an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus  left him answering an unexpected calling, but one that was God’s vision for Paul’s life—a vision that included the reconciliation of two groups that stood opposed to one another—Jews and Gentiles. Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Spirit-Empowered

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Scripture Reading:

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.  Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Eph 6:10-18

Reflections:

Our Lenten journey through Ephesians continued yesterday with Pastor John telling us that to live a Christ-Centered life, one that is rooted in love, is impossible

…save for God!
For with God all things are possible! Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Rooted in Love

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Scripture Reading:

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Eph 5:1-2

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Eph 3:14-19

Reflections:

Yesterday’s message (delivered by my ATS friend George Johnson) was brimming to the rim! And powerful! Of course, any time you preach about the love of God it’s kind of hard not to be. And there is so much “good stuff” in this passage. So let me hit just a few of the highlights for me: Continue reading

Lenten Reflection: Christ-Centered Life

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Scripture Reading:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

God has now revealed to us his mysterious will regarding Christ—which is to fulfill his own good plan. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #253 — Heart of Courage

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Our last post of 2015!

 

Let me leave you with this message of courage as you walk the path God has placed before you for the year ahead.

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
    which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what Simeon said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” ~ Lk 2:29-35

Imagine hearing this blessing over your child and then those very last words. Just as Simeon is pouring out this wonderful worship of the infant Christ, he ends with this warning to Mary. Women of Ancient Israel longed to give birth to the promised Messiah, the One who would bring hope, healing and restoration to their nation. Yet few would understand the cost of this “gift.”

What gift has God entrusted to you? How will you work with God to bring it to fulfillment in your life? Will you press forward even when the road ahead gets tough? Even when your soul is pierced? Will you still say yes? Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #249 — What is Christmas?

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What is the true meaning of CHRISTmas? I know this can be a difficult season for many. There is only one way to be truly fulfilled in this season:

Clayton Jennings is on a mission to #TellTheWorld about the saving love of Jesus Christ. One way in which he does this is through powerful videos like the one above. Another way is through spoken word:

Continue reading

Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #227 — Benediction Dance

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As we have focused on Advent resources, let us keep our eyes fixed on Christ

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

Matt Durbin (c) 2010

If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything—if the whole world is in your pocket—but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you? Luke 9:23-25 The Voice

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Create-A-Day: your daily dose of creativity #222 — Dance of the Trinity

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Won’t you join me on the dance floor today? This is going to take some artistic license and creative choreography, but I hope you will join me with open mind, heart and eyes.

When I first watched this dance to Luminus on So You Think You Can Dance (2015), I was immediately taken with what I saw as the image of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Three dancers dancing and creating together in unity and beauty. Let me describe what I see in this dance. You can follow along with the times throughout the video indicated.

To set the stage, Derek Piquette (left) represents God the Father, Gaby Diaz (middle) dances the Holy Spirit, and Moises Parra (floor) represents Christ. SYTYCD 2015 2From the very beginning of the dance, we see three persons from one God. The smoke creates an ethereal mist and the stars an image of space and time being created. Just as the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the earth so too do they (0:35) as the three work together to create all of earth and mankind. Then God steps forward as the Great I AM (0:37+), Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Next the Holy Spirit steps forward (0:43+) bringing artistry to the Tabernacle through the Spirit-filled artist Bezalel, the gifts of the Israelite people, and the worship of the Levites, revealing the beauty of God (0:51). Then as they dance in unison, we see them working together to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and sovereignty throughout the history of his people. Continue reading